Lewis Hamilton says memories of 2021's "soul-crushing" Abu Dhabi Grand Prix came flooding back when he discovered that Red Bull had breached last year's cost cap. Leading last year's F1 season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton was on track to win a record eighth World Championship title, but a combination of a late-race Safety Car period and an incorrect application of the rules governing lapped cars allowed Max Verstappen to pass him on the last lap to win the race and steal the crown from under the Briton's nose. It was subsequently revealed earlier this month that Verstappen's Red Bull team had breached F1's cost cap for 2021, with the FIA soon to rule on an appropriate sanction for the drinks-backed outfit. "That, for sure, brings up a little bit of emotion, because you kind of buried it and moved on, and then it comes back up and it's like another bit of a kick," Hamilton told BBC Sport . "That just bought it all kind of fresh again, so then [it was a case of] just getting back into the phase of just suppressing it and moving forwards."
Could Hamilton have retired from F1?
Following the controversial events at Abu Dhabi, Hamilton spoke briefly to the media ahead of the podium ceremony but remained silent for several weeks afterwards, and unfollowed everybody on his Instagram account. Along with Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, Hamilton did not attend the annual FIA prize-giving gala at the end of the season, fuelling speculation that the Briton was set to walk away from F1. "Was I ever truly not going to come back? I am not one to give up like that, really," said Hamilton. "What really was breaking was to just believe that the sport would do something like that, that that would happen, given that there are so many people you rely on. You expect that the job would be done right. "And [that] an outcome of a World Championship which so many people have worked so hard for would come out through a wrong decision from somebody. "That was probably the only thing. It wasn't for my lack of love for working with my team or racing cars; it was literally that." Hamilton added that the time with his family and away from social media over the winter months was a key part of his recovery process. "I spent time with my family and that was the best part of the healing, really," said Hamilton. "I just gave all of my time to the kids [his nephews and nieces], building snowmen and just being present with them. "That enabled me to really recover, really bounce back. If I wasn't with them, I would have been stuck in a hole."